tv Democracy Now PBS December 19, 2017 12:00pm-1:01pm PST
12/19/17 12/19/17 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! >> the doctor is the one who has the responsibility to document if it death was an indirect cause from hurricane maria. what was because? he died because there was not electricity. amy: fergus governor calls for recall for the death toll from hurricane maria. the governments official call is 64. several investigations have revealed nearly 1000 more people died. we will speak with the cofounder of the center for investigative journalism who originally broke the story. then as congress votes on the tax bill, the special rapporteur
on extreme poverty and human rights says the trump administration and republicans are turning the u.s. into the world champion of extreme inequality. from california to puerto rico looking at poverty and its relationship to civil rights. what i found was incredibly low rates of social mobility. so people who are now very rich will stay that way. people who are very poor will certainly stay that way. what we have with the new tax reform a proposed welfare reforms is in exacerbation on both ins of that scalpels of amy: we will speak with philip alston. words.cdc seven banned fetus, and time avoid, vulnerable, diversity, transgender, evidence-based, and science-based. we will speak with the ceo of the emigrants association for the advancement of science, dr.
rush holt, and columbia university gender studies professor jack halberstam. all of that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. the house of representatives is poised to pass a massive re-write of the u.s. tax code today that will overwhelmingly benefit corporations and the wealthiest americans. the bill would also end the federal health insurance mandate, endangering the affordable care act, while opening up drilling in the arctic national wildlife refuge. on capitol hill, hundreds of protesters flooded the offices of lawmakers monday in civil disobedience. among those arrested was cincinnati resident megan anderson, who uses a wheelchair and has a degenerative neuromuscular disease. anderson says the tax bill will lead to medicaid cuts that could shorten her life. people thating the
work for us to not kill me. this disease continues to get worse. i will one day need a tracheotomy, a ventilator. please, allow me that so i can continue to laugh, continued to shed tears of joy with my family, my friends, and my community. amy: the protests came as a new analysis of the republican tax plan by the tax policy institute found that, by 2027, the top 1% would get 83% of the tax cut, while two-thirds of middle class americans will see a tax increase. the senate is expected to vote on final passage of the bill later this week. in washington state, a high-speed passenger train on inaugural trip from seattle to portland derailed on monday, leaving at least three people dead and inuring 70 others, 10 of them seriously. federal investigators say the amtrak train was traveling at 80 miles-per-hour when it barreled off the tracks in a 30
mile-per-hour zone. the accident sent some of the train's cars tumbling to a major highway below, with others left dangling on a steep embankment. this is west pierce fire chief jay sumerlin. extricationt of tools. it was not easy for the firefighters to get through. they were using jaws of life, air chisels, different forms of saws to get access to people and get them out. some of the rescues were done by ladders. it was just a difficult place to be. amy: the national transportation safety board says it's too early to tell what caused the derailment and that its investigators would spend a week or more scouring the wreckage for clues. ahead of the crash, the mayor of the city of lakewood raised safety concerns about the new rail line, editing earlier this month it could lead to multiple deaths. the train was not utilizing positive train control, a technology mandated by congress but rarely operating in amtrak
trains, which could have prevented the crash. after the crash, president trump tweeted -- "the train accident that just occurred in dupont, wa shows more than ever why our soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly. $7 trillion spent in the middle east while our roads, bridges, tunnels, railways crumble! not for long!" in fact, president trump's proposed budget for next year would cut federal funds for the federal transit administration's capital investment program, including amtrak projects. president trump outlined his blueprint for national security monday in a speech trumpeting u.s. military might, but failing to mention the threat posed by climate change. his national security strategy calls for the u.s. to respond with nuclear weapons to nonnuclear attacks. trump said he was digging up in america first by expanding the u.s. military to counter the expanding power of russia and china. the united states vetoed a united nations security council
resolution monday, calling on the trump administration to withdraw its declaration that jerusalem is israel's capital. the vote was 14-to-1, with u.s. ambassador to the u.n. nikki haley exercising a lone veto. the israeli military seized control of east jerusalem in 1967 and has occupied the territory ever since. palestinians, however, have long seen east jerusalem as the capital of their future country, and both the u.n. security council and the general assembly have passed dozens of resolutions calling for israel to end its occupation of east jerusalem. meanwhile, vice president mike pence has delayed a planned trip to the middle east, saying he'll remain in washington, d.c., to preside over passage of the republican tax bill this week. pence's announcement came after palestinian president mahmoud abbas canceled a planned meeting with pence in bethlehem, and called for an angry demonstration to protest president trump's decision to -- on jerusalem. pence now says he'll visit egypt and israel in february. honduran vice president ricardo alvarez has rejected calls for a
revote in the november 26 election after incumbent president juan orlando hernandez was declared the winner by the election tribunal his office controls. >> this is not economists and sovereign country. this is a country that is not going to do what anybody from an international organization tells it to do. i will say it again. the only other election this country will have is on the last sunday of november 2021. there is not another election. amy: vice president alvarez's comments came despite charges of voter fraud by opposition candidate salvador nasralla, and a call for a new vote by the organization of american states, which said the first election was so filled with irregularities that it's impossible to declare a winner. protests continue to rage across honduras. in the capital tegucigalpa monday, police fired tear gas and pepper spray at protesters who burned tires and set up barricades in the streets.
in vienna, austria, thousands of people rallied monday to protest austria's newly-seated far-right government, which includes members of the anti-immigrant freedom party, which was founded after world war ii by former members of the nazi party. police used water cannons to turn back protesters who chanted, "refugees welcome" and "nazis out." this is protester fam fiskal. >> i believe austria should remain open. clearly, we are a small country and can't take everyone in, but we should also avoid producing general suspects and being generally hostile to migrants and refugees. amy: puerto rico's government said monday it's launching an official review of the death count from hurricane maria. the storm devastated the island september 20. and since then, the government has put the official death toll at 64. but a number of investigations have revealed that nearly 1000 more people died. this comes as the center for investigative journalism in puerto rico reported this week that close to three months since the storm, 45 people are still listed as missing, and efforts
by puerto rico's police to locate them have been minimal or almost non-existent. after headlines, we'll go to san want to speak with journalist omaya sosa. one of president trump's nominees to a lifetime appointment on the u.s. district court in washington has withdrawn from consideration after widely circulated video showed he was unable to answer basic questions about the law and had never tried a case in court. this is louisiana republican john kennedy questioning petersen at a senate judiciary committee confirmation hearing last week. >> have you ever tried a jury trial? >> i have not. >> civil? >> no. >> criminal? >> no. >> state or federal court? >> i have not. amy: matthew petersen's withdrawal came after the judiciary committee rejected two of president trump's other nominees this month -- texas lawyer jeff mateer, who has called transgender children
evidence of satan's plan, and blogger brett talley, who was rated unanimously unqualified for a judicial post by the american bar association. in california, federal appeals court judge alex kozinski said monday said he will retire after at least 15 women accused him of sexual harassment, unwanted hugging, kissing, or groping in incidents spanning decades. judge kozinski was appointed to the ninth circuit court of appeals by president ronald reagan in 1985. current and former women contributors at the fox news channel are speaking out against sexual abuse in the workplace after media mogul and fox news owner rupert murdoch dismissed widespread charges of rape, sexual assault, and harassment at the network as nonsense. murdoch made the comments in an interview on the sky news channel, which he founded. >> how harmful has the whole
allegations about central harassment at fox news been for the business? there was a problem with our chief executive. as soon as we investigated, it was out of the place in hours. well, three or four days. amy: in fact, it took fox news three weeks to force out its former chief executive roger ailes after former host gretchen carlson filed suit against ailes, and left with a $40 million settlement. ailes was also accused of sexual harassment by more than 20 other women. rupert murdoch also failed to mention the case of former fox news host bill o'reilly, who settled sexual harassment claims with at least six women -- paying out $32 million to settle one suit alone -- before he was eventually fired last april. fox news host eric bolling was suspended by the network in august over accusations that he texted unwanted photos of his genitals to female co-workers. and former tv commentator
scottie nell hughes says in a lawsuit she was raped by longtime charles payne and then coerced into maintaining a sexual relationship with him. and feminist activist tarana burke, the founder of the #metoo movement, will preside over the ceremonial countdown ringing in 2018 on new year's eve in new york city's times square. 10 years ago, tarana burke began "me too" as a grassroots movement to aid sexual assault survivors in underprivileged communities, where rape crisis centers and sexual assault workers weren't going. in a statement, the president of the times square len said -- "tarana burke's courage and foresight have changed the world this year, and, we hope, forever." to see our interviews with tarana burke, you can go to democracynow.org. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report.
i'm amy goodman. juan: and i'm juan gonzalez. welcome to all of our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. we begin today's show in puerto rico, where the government said -- were the island's governor said he is launching an official review of the death count from hurricane maria. the storm devastated the island on september 20. and since then, the government has listed the official death toll at 64. but several investigations have revealed that nearly 1000 more people died. the center for investigative journalism in puerto rico examined the 40-day period after hurricane maria hit puerto rico and compared to the same time keeping last year, finding at least 985 additional people died. a cnn survey of funeral home directors in puerto rico found they had tracked at least 499 additional deaths in the first month after the storm that were attributable to hurricane maria. this week, "the new york times" and other outlets published statistics from the puerto rican government that show the death
toll may be more than 1000. in a statement released monday, the island's governor ricardo rossello referred to the reports, saying the media "used the data provided by the puerto rico demographic registry, but the government needs to if the increase of the deaths is related directly or indirectly with hurricane maria." in the face of mounting evidence of a vast undercount by the government, governor rossello added -- "we always expected that the number of hurricane-related deaths would increase as we received more factual information -- not hearsay -- and this review will ensure we are correctly counting everybody." amy: this comes as the center for investigative journalism in puerto rico reported this week that close to three months since the storm, 45 people are still listed as missing, and efforts by puerto rico's police to locate them have been minimal or almost non-existent. meanwhile, homeland security
secretary kirstjen nielsen and housing and urban development secretary ben carson are visiting the island today, where at least a third of residents are still without power and hundreds remain in shelters. the visit follows a proposal monday night by republican house lawmakers for an $81 billion disaster aid package for recovery efforts in puerto rico, texas, florida, and the u.s. virgin islands, as well as states hit by wildfires. well more than president trump has asked for. for more, we go to san juan, puerto rico where we are joined by omaya sosa, co-founder of puerto rico's center for investigative journalism, where she is a reporter. her latest article is headlined, "delayed and without resources: puerto rico's police did little to investigate missing persons after hurricane maria." welcome to democracy now! we had on the center for investigative journalism, your center, early on after the hurricane. where you were alleging that there were around 1000 deaths. this is now months later.
at the time, president trump was touting the fact the death level was very low. now the governor of puerto rico says he is calling for a recount. tell us the evidence you have that the death toll may well be around 1000? close first of all, good morning . thank you so much for having me. early on, since weeks number one or two, we are he had a lot of evidence that the deaths were skyrocketing and they were much higher than the 16 death count the government maintained as the official death count, death toll for like two weeks. that did not move at all any day for two weeks. certainly, there was very little interest of the government being proactive in finding out what was really going on. the morgues at the hospital were full in puerto rico, which is not normal.
the hospitals were saying this was the fact that this was going on. the government was -- just did not want to get into the issue and count what was going on. seriously, this went on until the day president trump came here and used that number two say, you know what? this is not a real catastrophe. this is not like katrina. hours after that same day, the number had doubled. the official number. juan: i want to turn to those comments you're referring to made in october during his visit to puerto rico after the hurricane hit the island. throughout the trip comes repeatedly praised his a administration's response to the storm comparing it to george w. inh's handling of katrina 2000 five. this is what the president said. pres. trump: if you look at a real catastrophe like katrina and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds of hundreds of people that died and
you look at what happened here with really a storm that was just totally overbearing. nobody has ever seen anything like this. what is your death count as of this moment? 17? 16 people certified. 16 people versus in the thousands. you can be very proud of all of your people, all of our people working together. juan: omaya sosa, your response? here you have the governor of the island as well as the president of the united states, both apparently not in contact with what was actually happening on the ground at that time. >> you know what? that was a very sad moment. everybody here knew that was not real. we had been publishing already for one week some of our stories and are investigations. the government knew that was not the real number. they said over and over again
repeatedly, now that they are saying they're going to do the recount, that they had not received information. they don't have to receive information. they have to go look for the information. go out and investigate. they just have not done that ful. juan: in terms of the efforts of people on the ground to try to get a clear sense am a one of the things that has been raised that the hospitals were never given any data protocols by the government about how to deal with deaths that were coming in at that time. can you talk about the medical community, what they were told? email, were just sent in maybe two or three emails, with the cdc guidelines of how to manage our recommendations on how to manage death certificates --er national disasters like natural disasters like hurricanes, for example.
those were never distributed. they're not a mandate. the hospital said that is not their legal responsibility and we all know there's a lot of liability in putting things in writing without a law or executive mandate for that. i think there were only three death certificate that said the word "hurricane." there was no clear instruction. this was just to the administrators. i've spoken to many doctors that have said they've never received these guidelines. they never received an order. when the governor has wanted to make something happen, he just stands up and clearly says he is putting out an executive order or some kind of a mandate. that has not happened. yesterday was the first time that he said something clearly about this issue. three month after. amy: in october, democracy now! travel to puerto rico. i spoke with san juan mayor carmen yulin cruz who raised the
issue of the number of bodies cremated after the storm. >> reported 911 deaths had been or bodies had been cremated since maria. why is that happening? amy: 911? >> why is that happening? we have no idea. usually when you cremate people of that rate, it is because you are trying to ensure that an outbreak of whatever disease does not come out. but whatever it is, we should know about it. again, i don't understand why these things are not being openly talked about. amy: that is the san juan mayor carmen yulin cruz. omaya sosa, can you respond to this, the number of cremations? well, the number of cremations is certainly high. it has been put a little out of context because it wasn't in the did notthat came out last u
compare to months before. usually it is like 400 to 500 cremations monthly. and now he was about 900. so almost double. in charge, the security secretary has said this is the will of the people. i've spoken to a lot of people that say we have no option, that the bodies of my family member, for example, were already decomposed. wishedot that i asked or for cremation, i just had no other option. certainly, it all had to do with the situation. i cannot a there is a willful -- a will to just cover up something, but certainly, not to investigate when you have cremated so many bodies is difficult. juan: your reported on the spike of the number of people missing subsequent to the hurricane and
the failure of police officials to even look for these folks. could you talk about that as well? sadhis is another very situation that happened that was just erased, forgotten by everybody. the week after the hurricane, the missing persons in puerto rico tripled. as we just found out, the police kind of noticed three weeks after the fact -- you should know when there is a missing persons, the first 48 hours are critical to finding this person. the police could not react because of the situation and also the police were going through the same problems everybody in puerto rico was going through -- no water or electricity, no communications. but still, the security force, they should have known before. after a month after, you still have 45 persons from that period that remain missing.
we are noticing a profile of a lot of people with mental health problems. members --ted family family members are super upset they've not had any help from the police at all. we published that on sunday. we still have not seen a reaction, but the police chief michelle foro early said -- she is open to working the situation. it is still the same problem. too little, too late. amy: can you comment on the significance of the heads of hud , housing and urban development, dr. ben carson, as well as the head of the department of homeland security coming to puerto rico today? what you think they need to know? i'm sorry, i could not hear you very well. amy: can you comment on the heads of homeland security and housing and urban development coming to puerto rico today?
what do you think they need to know? work fors a lot of them if they are willing to do it. first of all, the homeland security department is the one that has been asked by the delegation to investigate this issue with the deaths in the death count. the governor has said he wants to delegation to test the situation to be investigated and a recount to be done. as we published today, the people that will be in charge of that investigation are the same people that have been in charge for the past three months and have been stubbornly saying this is it, this is the correct number and they don't have to do anything else. certainly, that raises a lot of suspicion from our side and from people's side that don't trust , ingovernment in this issue this investigation. so i think the homeland security acting secretary should, you
know, take some cut of control and make some serious questions. in terms of the housing secretary, that is one of the most serious issues we have right now. 250,000 people have lost their homes. there are a lot of people without a place to stay still. people at shelters sleeping. certainly, we're a serious housing crisis that must be attended to. juan: i am wondering if you could talk about the congressional response to the crisis of puerto rico? there is a bill now being introduced for $81 billion, but that is not just for puerto rico, that is for texas, florida, for the victims of the wildfires in california. the island governor had requested over $90 billion just for the island. also, the tax bill that will be voted on in the next day or so, how it will affect the puerto rican island because there are
claims some of the provisions would actually spur more companies to leave the island of puerto rico who now have manufacturing facilities there? frustrating. i mean, is aims like all of the doors are being shut on puerto rico when the help is needed the most. we really don't understand why this tax bill cannot make the exception with puerto rico when we are going through such a dire crisis that everybody has seen on tv for the past three months. more than half of the people here still do not have electricity. -- and they want to tax the few companies that are left? the biggest crisis besides the humanitarian crisis and electricity is the economic situation, economic development. the businesses cannot run without electricity. many have just shut down. a lot of people don't have any options at all. decidedou options have
-- and a few options have decided to stay to fight the fight will see their taxes increase by 20%? it is really horrible. it is terrible will stop in terms of the package, it has what can come and out from that $81 billion package? what can be the final number that will be given to puerto rico that would be determinate to what can happen, how we can bounce back a little from this situation or not. amy: omaya sosa, thanks for being with us, co-founder and reporter with the puerto rico center for investigative journalism. we will link to your latest piece, "delayed and without sources: puerto rico's police did little to investigate missing persons after hurricane maria." a special thanks to wipr in san juan. when we come back, we will speak
,ith pena nieto --philip alston the special overture on extreme poverty and human rights. he just completed a two-week tour around the united states, says the tax bill that the republicans and democrats encumbers are poised to vote on could devastate people in this country. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
amy: this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. juan: we turn now to a scathing new report on poverty in the united states that found the trump administration and republicans are turning the u.s. into the "world champion of extreme inequality." philip alston, the united nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights announced his findings after conducting a two-week fact-finding mission across the country, including visits to california, alabama, washington, d.c., and puerto rico. alston also warned the republican tax bill will
transfer vast amounts of wealth to the richest earners while making life harder for the 41 million americans living in poverty. amy: among other startling findings in alston's report, the u.s. ranks 36th in the world in terms of access to water and sanitation. alston discussed the report's findings friday with independent senator bernie sanders of vermont, who focused on economic inequality during his presidential campaign. well, for more, philip alston joins us in our new york studio. he is the united nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. he is also a professor at nyu law school. welcome to democracy now! so you just came back from this to her. congress is poised to vote on this tax bill. your assessment and why you are weighing in as the un's special rapport -- ravitch were on extreme poverty.
>> my job is to try to find light the extent to which people -- to which the civil rights of people were living in extreme poverty jeopardized by government policies. what i see in the united states now is not just attacks reform bill, but a very clear indication by government officials with whom i met, by the treasury and their analysis, that this is going to be funded in part by cuts to welfare, to medicare, medicaid. so what you have got is a huge effort to enrich the richest and to impoverish the poorest. that is going to have very dramatic consequences. juan: and from what you saw, how did race and poverty overlap on this issue? >> there's a very conflict relationship, actually, between race and poverty. first, it is true if you are african-american, hispanic, your situation in terms of poverty is often going to be pretty bad.
but there's also a rialized discourse where if you speak to policymakers, they will say, yes, we're going to cut back on welfare because those black families out there are really ripping off the system. and so what they do is to try to get some sort of race warfare going almost that white voters think, yeah, i'm not going to be ripped off by the blacks and hispanics. but of course, the terrible thing is the cuts are actually nondiscriminatory. in other words, the impact the poor whites every bit as much as the poor people of color. so the race dimension is deeply problematic. amy: i want to turn to benita garner, a mother living in poverty who is participating in a program through a nonprofit called lift. she landed seasonal work with ups, but worries what will happen when the job ends. >> it is scary. is stuff that you don't think
about that is scary. i know it can happen. i'm not looking forward to the end of the month. right now you're getting money, but then it is like shut down again. euros have to lustily think everydaywhat is my next move? >> she spoke at your launch. talk about why she is so important. their millions of people in exactly the position. one of the things the current administration is putting his we need to get people off welfare and into work. first of all, it is not clear there are jobs for people with those sort of skills. secondly, those who get the jobs are going to end up in her situation. i spoke with a lot of walmart employees who are working full time but who are still eligible for a totally dependent upon food stamps. so working 35 hours a week at walmart is not enough to make a living out of. there is a much bigger problem in the u.s. because the various
myths -- precariousness of employment as we moved to the big economy mes they're going bonitaver more people in ' situation. juan: how does the u.s. compared to other countries in the world? i think most americans would be shocked. we mentioned in the lead to this piece, 36 and water quality in the world? to othert comparing it major advances, especially industrial countries. >> united states is one of the richest countries in the world. but all of the statistics put it almost at the bottom. whether it is child mortality rates, whether it is the longevity of adults, whether it is the degree of adequacy of health care, the united states is very close to the bottom on alof these. what is really surprising is when i go to other countries, the big debate is that we don't
have the money. we can't afford to provide basic services to these people. and yet in the united states, they have over $1 trillion to give to the very rich, but they also don't have any of the money to provide a basic lifestyle that is humane for 40 million americans. amy: professor alston, you were in alabama right around the time of the december 12 special election between doug jones and roy moore. why were you talking about poverty at that time? why did you see this as so significant, weighing in in this election? >> i did not weigh in and the election. as governor to do that. amy: no, why poverty ways in. >> one of the best quotes i got during my two-week visit was from an official and was virginia where voting rates are extremely low. i said, why is it no one votes
and was virginia? well, youse was, know, when people are very poor, they lose interest. they just don't believe there is any point. one begins to wonder if that is actually a strategy, that you make people poor enough, you make them obsessed with working out where their next meal is going to come from, they're not going to vote so you can happily ignore them. amy: you talked about a method sewage crisis -- massive sewage crisis in alabama and needing people tre like patty mcdonald who told you about how to house with shot up by white neighbors when she voted in 1965 after the voting rights act became law. that was very touching meeting her. i was meeting with people who really are struggling to make it, but the main focus was actually on water and sanitation. countryshocking is in a like india today, there's a huge government campaign to try to get sewerage to all people, make
it available. in alabama and west virginia -- where i went -- i asked state officials, what is the coverage of the state sewage system? "i don't know." amy: that is what they said? >>'s what plans do you have extending the coverage, albeit slowly? "none." do you think people can live a decent life if they don't have access to sewage, if sewage is pouring out into the front garden -- which is what i saw in many places? "that is their problem. if they needed, they can buy for themselves." is veryma were the soil tough, can cost up to $30,000 to put in euros septic system. juan: i would ask about puerto rico that is grappling with a $74 billion debt and as much as $100 billion in storm damage. the republican tax bill includes a 20% excise tax on goods produced there. this is congresswoman nydia velasquez, who is originally from puerto rico. >> now with the potential
passage of the republican tax bill, puerto rico faces an economic hurricane. under this bill, americans of city or he's in puerto rico will now face -- subsidiaries in puerto rico will now face a 20% tax when they move their goods off the island. if this becomes law, you can expect to see more than 200,000 manufacturing jobs disappear from the island. in the government of puerto rico could lose one third of its revenue. juan: you visited puerto rico during your trip. the idea that even with unemployment rate that hovers around 16%, 17%, depression levels can be even greater as a result of this tax bill? >> artery go is getting what it deserves full stop in other words, you don't have any votes in the congress. you don't get anything. there is just no willingness on
the part of members of congress to be seen to be giving anything to puerto rico. you have extremely high levels withople on welfare welfare payments extremely lower than they are on the mainland. you whole series of measures being proposed in the tax bill and elsewhere. and you have the pro-mesa, the fiscal oversight board, poised to really have a draconian austerity package. the situation is grim. when you don't have democratic representation, it is very hard to defend yourself. amy: "the new york times" has a says now puerto rico is bracing for another blow, a housing meltdown that could far surpass the worst of the for couriers are crisis that devastated phoenix, las vegas, southern california, south florida. if the current numbers, puerto rico's head for a epidemic that
could rival what happened in detroit where been in homes became almost as plentiful as occupied ones. professor alston? >> the of the very poor, and i visited a lot of areas where people have no electricity and are living in rubble, essentially. they won't be going anywhere. they will be staying in their homes. those who are reasonably well-off will be feing because they can't make it in puerto rico. they don't have electricity or the economic support. so there's no point in staying. that housing market will then be terribly uninteresting for investors and others. juan: could you talk about the positive side of your report, those areas you sell communities organizing themselves and trying to deal with their problems directly? >> particularly in puerto rico, i visited some of the cooperatives were people were trying to reclaim the land in san juan, trying to dredge the
old canal that has grown over. i met with a lot of people living around power plants who are severely impacted by the and solow of coal ash on. they're really organized and focused. that was terrific. in many other parts of the country as well, what i saw was hume -- community both collectives in west virginia. i saw the homeless in skidow in los angeles and so on. there is a real element of organization. at the bottom line, unfortunately, if you don't have essential government services being provided, these people cannot do it on their own. amy: we want to thank you very much for being with us. in 30 seconds, can you summarize -- you're not from this country. you lived here for a long time, but you now take this different kind of tour and you are the special rapporteur on extreme poverty. your thoughts on the united states after this two weeks? >> the united states is unique.
first of all, doesn't recognize what we call social rights at the international level, right to health care, housing, food. the united egg is unique in saying these are not rights. second, the issue with illumination of poverty always is around resources. we don't have the money. united states -- uniquely, has the money. it could illuminate party overnight if it wanted to. what we're seeing now is the classic. where do you want to put your money, into the very rich or into creating a decent society which will actually be economically more productive than just giving the money to those who already have it. amy: and what the tax bill does? >> that is what it does, from what i've seen. amy: philip alston is the united nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights and a professor at nyu law school. just completed a two-week tour examining extreme poverty and human rights in the u.s. when we come back, the seven staff ats according to
amy: this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. we end today show looking at the controversy around a decision reportedly taken by the trump administration to bar top federal health officials from using seven words or phrases relating to abortion, sexuality and science in official documents. "the washington post" broke the
news friday, citing an anonymous whistleblower who says policy analysts at the centers for disease control were told of the banned words at a meeting last week. the words are "fetus," "entitlement," "vulnerable," "diversity," "transgender," "evidence-based" and "science-based." in some cases, the analysts were reportedly given replacement phrases to use instead. amy: after widespread criticism of the purported ban, on sunday the cdc director dr. brenda fitzgerald took to twitter to refute the "washington post" report in a series of tweets saying no such ban had been proposed, adding -- "cdc remains committed to our public health mission as a science- and evidence-based institution." there was some confusion about whether the alleged directive was issued by the cdc or its parent agency, health and human services. juan: in another tweet, fitzgerald cited an hhs comment on the report saying --
"the assertion that hhs has 'banned words' is a complete mischaracterization of discussions regarding the budget formulation process. hhs will continue to use the best scientific evidence available to improve the health of all americans." for more, we're joined now by two guests. dr. rush holt is the chief executive officer of the american association for the advancement of science and executive publisher of the science family of journals. he is a research physicist, educator, and former politician. dr. holt represented central new jersey in congress from 1999 to 2015. also with this is jack halberstam is with us, professor of english and gender studies at columbia university. their most recent book is titled "trans: a quick and quirky account of gender variability." welcome both of you to democracy now! dr. holt, your response to this
amazing report by of what the washington post" and the response by cdc? >> at first glance, it is a of banning adea few words. the government agencies have said, that is not really true, innocent mischaracterization, which itself is a euphemism that seems to say they don't really mean what they say. it action he has a serious side. the serious side, it appears that ideology is being elevated above evidence. these terms such as "fetus," and" transgender" and diversity are legally -- politically loaded words, and those are to be avoided.
now they say they're are not really banning their use, they just don't want to offend the congressional appropriators. their they want appropriations approved by congress, they should avoid such words. elevatingn itself is ideology of of evidence. and science-based agencies, in particular, but i would argue all agencies, should put a premium, the highest premium, on evidence-based thinking. words, science-based thinking. science is not just gadgets were expensive lab equipment. it is this where thinking so we get our best sense of how things actually are. that is why you should begin making policy. that is how you should begin making regulations, with a sense of how things actually are. amy: we're also joined by jack halberstam, professor of english and gender studies at columbia university. professor, transgender and
fetus. don't use those wds, apparently, the staff were told. your thoughts? >> this is a pretty billion measure to try to -- orwellian measure to take words out of potential health policies that affect populations. lgbtight have expected the , much more blankets and umbrella term, so i think the focus on transgender has to be understood in terms of the trump administration's sense that transgender is a category that requires some kind of medical intervention. this is also the reason that trump gave for wanting to ban transgender people in the military, that this would be an enormous cost on the military to be funding sex resign the surgeries and so on. it is a kind of transactional relationship to the category of transgender. amy: and what does it mean to not use the word? can you talk about the
importance of naming? >> to not use that word is in a way to try to wish it out of existence or to imply that it is a fictitious category that has been created by social justice to being, as opposed an actual experience of a body. so i think this calling out of transgender in particular requires special attention. because this is clearly a targeted word for the trump administration at a moment when we are actually having a public conversation about gender diversity, bathroom use, and so on. juan: you refer to the trumpet administration in the past as been characterized by a greed white masculinity. new explain? >> i think these kinds of policies and to suggest that certain people are getting special entitlement that vulnerable populations, to use the word they are using, ar somehow receiving special treatment. in this allows trump to speak to his potentially white male base
and say, these kinds of social justice measures are, in the end, going to be detrimental to your welfare, your economic well-being, your health, and so on. it is a zero-sum approach to health care, to the economy, so on that suggests to white men, in particular, but also white women, that any kinds of measures that benefit marginalized populations will negatively influence them. amy: and the word "fetus" >> fetus is so clearly a category that they believe is part of the left-wing ideology to not talk about unborn davies as babies -- babies as babies. if they can ban the word fetus, they think that will shed light upon the actual meaning of abortion, which, for the right wing, is equated with murder and killing and so on.
so these kinds of words are so important. as we saw in the aids crisis, to remove words from the vocabulary of health care professionals is very, very often to deny health care to vulnerable populations. juan: dr. holt, you're the chief executive of the american association for the advancement of science. you and 15 other science society heads requested a meeting earlier this year with epa had scott pruitt. what happened? well, nothing. thanks for asking that. we have been reaching out to this administration, of course, to previous administrations, to urge that all policies start with evidence-based thinking. you can bring your values in. you can bring your other perspectives in.
but first, you have to start with an understanding of how things actually are. mr. pruitt, the head of the epa, when he was in oklahoma, was constantly disparaging climate science. in fact, he denied it was a science. he said, well, we don't really know enough. there is a debate about this. therefore, we won't even look at it. we won't even consider it. well, in fact, if you think there's a debate, all the more reason that he should be open to the collection of evidence, the study of the science. epa, also restricted scientists from sitting on science advisory committees, for what he calls conflict of interest, even though he willingly and frequently lets corporate people sit on those committees and ignores any possible conflict of interest
there. amy: you have also president trump yesterday outlining his blueprint for national security. in a speech troubling u.s. military might, but failing to mention the threat posed by climate change, something the pentagon knows very well has put it forward as a major national security threat. >> the president relegated climate change to something he calls energy dominance. the energy dominance section of his national security presentation. another words, not as legitimate science that should be studied, not as a threat to international stability. wishing this idea of things away. andwishful thinking
ideology -- and by ideology, i just mean prebaked opinions that one holds dearly. those are the enemies of good policy and good regulation. an antidote for that is evidence-based thinking. now, it is not clear what the cdc folks said. you could not say that evidence-based inking. but the fact the subject only comes up in response to outcry from employees there at cdc that they were being muzzled, suggest to me that they have not elevated evidence-based thinking to their highest priority. not: and you said it is just the trump administration, although they may be the most extreme, but previous administrations -- you had questions about what they have within terms of dealing evidence-based or science-based thinking. >> i would argue that for some decades, the american people have retreated somewhat from
evidence-based thinking. however fascinated they are by science, however approving they appear to be when questioned about science, they don't show negligent and policymakers are, too, and their approach to science. the first question that every citizen should ask, as well as every policy maker should ask when confronting a regulation or policy is, what is the evidence? and that is what it means to think like a scientist. i'm not arguing that all americans should wear lab coats, but all americans should have this -- well, let's call it empirical approach, which i think is a long-standing american characteristic that has been eroding. amy: former federal official who spoke anonymously to "the new york times." the official called the move stupid and orwellian, but said "they are not saying to not use the words in reports or articles or scientific publications or
anything else the cdc does. they're saying not to use it in your request for money because it will hurt you. it's not about censoring what cdc can say to the american public. it's about a budget strategy to get funded." dr. rush holt, you were a congressman. jack halberstam, your professor. i assume you apply for government funding. they're not saying it is an overall ban, but if you want any money, don't use these words. >> with i'm really have of that ideology. >> which has the effect of suppressing the exact kinds of health projects that people might submit that are based and are in relationship to people of color, poor people, women. those are the targeted groups in that list. and it is very -- or not subtle way of saying we don't particularly care about delivering complex health care